Online ‘educational’ games are invaluable tools to teaching and learning in that they assist in the crucial development of knowledge and skills which are commonly taught across several key learning areas. For this reason, online gaming can help reach and extend gifted and talented learners as games allow students to learn curriculum content at a faster rate, build knowledge using a creative medium and ultimately take control of the learning. Quest Atlantis; one of few ‘academic rich’ games used in education, engages students in curricular tasks known as quests, that are consistent with social commitments and educational goals typically found with key learning areas such as; Literacy, HSIE, Science, PDHPE and Visual Arts (Barab, 2005, p. 86, para. 1). More specifically, these quests present students with real life problems (pollution, injustice, unhealthy lifestyles) faced by inhabitants within a futuristic world ‘Atlantis’ which students are to examine and seek action to solve. To progress through each quest, students are required to “contribute experiences, ideas and information”; thus fulfilling the element of active learning. Students can operate independently and collaboratively to complete quests and can communicate with peers and other ‘questers’ around the world as a way to solving their quests.
According to CRLT (2003, para. 2) online games, that engage learners in meaningful topics, in fact transform the way students think, feel and act about the world. Studies conducted by CRLT (2000-2003) have shown that among other groupings of students, gifted and talented students are exhibiting increased levels of engagement and interest in pursuing curriculum issues inside and out of school because of online games like QA. It is clear that educational online gaming is creating a significant effect on gifted and talented students approach to classroom learning.
On a problematic note, greater research in the area of educational video gaming is needed, if teachers are to become aware of their benefits and allow their gifted and talented students to use them in their classrooms. Greater partnerships between teachers and game designers can result in greater examples of online materials that support academic and social learning, not to mention the interests and motivations of gifted and talented students.
QA is designed for students within stages 2 and 3.
Links to Herrington’s Model
‘Do students engage in an authentic context?’
QA use videos (images, animations and sound) and web quests as a way of introducing students with various quests for which they are to solve. These tools help to succinctly highlight the purpose and motivation for each quest.
‘Do students engage in authentic activities?’
Students take part in relevant curricular tasks as they go about solving real world problems when completing each individual quest. Each quest is reflective of real-world problem solving as students are to “understand the nature of the task at hand, determine how it might be broken up into smaller tasks, select information that is relevant and find a solution” that meet QA needs (Herrington & Kervin, 2007, p. 223, para. 3). One particular quest presents students with the problem of pollution which Atlantis faces. Atlantis wish to know what sources of pollution could be affecting their environment. In pairs, students are asked to use a camera to take photos of potential sources of pollution within their local neighbourhood. Using these pictures, students are encouraged to create a web page; adding explanations when necessary in regards to how various situations could be resulting in pollution. When completed, students submit their webpage for the Atlantis Council for review.
‘Does QA encourage collaboration?’
QA enables students to work in small groups or pairs to solve a series of problems faced by Atlantis. Gifted and talented students greatly benefit from this in that they can “put their heads together” to develop new knowledge and understandings that are responsible in creating highly comprehensive online products. The ability for students to communicate with ‘questers’ from around the world to share thoughts, ideas and suggestions helps to challenge and extend student thinking and knowledge and so, raises the quality of solutions presented by students!
Examples of videos that give further insight into QA and the type of quests students face:
This article provides further information about QA and its benefits for classroom learning.
What is the web link?
- Quest Atlantis/Atlantis Remixed - http://atlantisremixed.org/#
Other gaming sites valuable to gifted and talented students could include;
- Space Settlements - http://www.nas.nasa.gov/About/Education/Spacesettlement/Contest/
- Jason Project - http://www.jasonproject.org
Barab, S. et al. (2005). Making Learning Fun, A Game without Guns. Educational Technology Research and Development, Vol. 53 Issue 1, p 86-107.
Centre for Research on Learning and Technology. (2000-2003). Quest Atlantis. Retrieved June 2, 2010 at: http://crlt.indiana.edu/research/qa.html.
Herrington, J. & Kervin, L. (2007). Authentic Learning Supported by Technology: Ten Suggestions and Cases of Integration in Classrooms. Educational Media International, Vol. 44 Issue 3, p 219-236.